The five must-haves of your company’s social media policy

The steady rise in social media crises reported in the news indicates that many organisations are operating without proper guidelines in place. Companies need to firstly understand why it is important to have a social media policy, and then make sure that it has the following essentials.

Must be easy to digest

The policy will only be effective if employees can understand it. Keep it simple by avoiding overly technical language, complex legal terms and jargon. Keep it succinct as possible, use short sentences and get to the point as early as possible.  Social media is a fast-moving, ever-evolving space, therefore your policy should be simple enough to apply to various platforms, scenarios and events without being too difficult to understand and, therefore, remember.

Provide essential definitions

Definitions of things such as cyber bullying, harassment, phishing and spamming need to be provided so that all members of staff are on the same page. Some terms and concepts may be new to some employees so ensure that there’s a common understanding across the board.

Define standards of engagement

Some of the biggest risks to social media interaction include potential reputational damage and security breaches. Make it clear to employees that they are expected to be transparent, responsible and use common sense in their interactions. Your policy should state the company’s position clearly, and reflect the values that employees are expected to uphold when they are on social media platforms. The policy should take the guess work out of how people conduct themselves when on social media.

Provide clarity

The policy should answer key questions like: what is considered personal? What responsibility do I have to protect my company’s reputation? Who is responsible for what type of communication and who do I send reports of alerts of worrying activities to?  

Define confidential or classified information

Organisations should provide parameters on what can be shared about the company and its business. Clearly articulate what documents or communications are open for public dissemination and which are not, and who staff should check with if they are unsure. Strategic documents, internal policies, client records, and other sensitive documents may fall into this category.

To ensure that your social media policy doesn’t gather dust, conduct social media training so that employees have a deeper understanding of the medium. Make it easily accessible, shareable and put it up to scrutiny to ensure that it is aligned with the company’s vision.